Top 10 Kitano

Having just purchased and watched Dolls, I realised I had seen 10 of Takeshi Kitano’s films. It’s safe to say he is my favourite director. It means I’ve now seen 10 of his oldest 11 films, the odd one out being Brother which quite frankly I have little interest in. At some stage I will complete a fuller list and review of his films since they are all worth watching, and many of them are wonderful films.


I will go in reverse order so as to build to Number 1.


10. A Scene at the Sea – Somewhat of a disappointment, although I’ve only seen it once, I never really felt attached to it. Features wonderful music though as normal from Joe Hisaishi.

9. Boiling Point – It’s an okay film. Very offbeat. There are some really good things about it, but honestly, half of it makes no sense whatsoever. Great cinematography.

8. Zatoichi – Putting it 8th seems unfair because it’s a very enjoyable film and perhaps Kitano’s most accessible work in that it feels quite Westernized. Good film although I don’t know anything about the previous iterations of Zatoichi and I’ve heard from some fans of it that the film is a disgrace to the work that went before it. Go watch it anyway.

7. Getting Any? – The only comedy I’ve seen from Kitano, it’s a fun romp and while a quarter of it will go over your head, there is enough there to keep even the most close-minded viewer laughing for some time. And it contains one or two hilarious references to Kitano’s gangster films – look out for Susumu Terajima ripping it up as the “continually getting killed Yakuza”.

6. Kids Return – I’ve posted about this before. It’s a very good film and very enjoyable but it’s missing some magic along the way.

5. Kikujiro – A stunner which can be watched by lots of different people. Old or young you will enjoy it. Always charming and affectionate without being saccharin or overbearing. A gorgeous film to watch, go see it!

4. Violent Cop – Kitano’s first film is still one of his best. Extremely enjoyable cop movie, some great performances and very “film-noir”, it was made in 1989 but outside of one or two things, doesn’t look like it’s aged a day, something which can be said for many Kitano films.

3. Dolls – Sublime. Some audio sync problems distracted me for the first half hour, so I hope you don’t have that kind of problem! Anyway, once I got into the film I grew very fond of it, 3 good stories mixed into one effortlessly watchable meditation on love and tragedy. Stunning photography, it’s really really beautiful.

2. Sonatine – Another Kitano cop movie, but one that constantly surprises with it’s gorgeous direction, humorous banter and stellar performances from Susumu Terajima and the lovable Masanobu Katsumura.

1. Hana-Bi – Still in my eyes the best Kitano film ever. It’s just a perfect cop movie, but at the same time, not a cop movie. I can’t say much more about it than that it’s absolutely spellbinding. Go buy it, it’s £3.99 on Amazon, you owe it to yourself to buy this film. It will open you up to a whole world of amazing Japanese films.


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